Listen. What’s that noise?
It’s Galway calling. I’ve been trying to ignore it for days, even weeks, but it won’t stop at me.
The city that’s really a village (in the same way that Dublin’s really a town) is throwing another party this weekend you see. And like all great parties – something this village-city knows a thing or two about – the best action is going to be in the kitchen.
They’re calling this party a food festival, or ‘Galway Food Festival’ to be precise, but of course a party is a party by any other name. Especially when you’ve the likes of Mr Whippy Soundsystem whipping up a soundtrack for the Feast on a Street in Crane Square on Easter Monday afternoon (with roast pig-on-a-spit from Kai & Cava, and a potato-carrying competition to boot). And Maeve Higgins laying on the lunchtime comedy on Saturday and Sunday in The Kings Head. And a whole bevy of great Galway restaurants taking part in the food trail over the weekend.
It’s not all fun and games though. Like any decent party, there’ll be some good meaty arguments for everyone to pick over for weeks to come, such as Saturday’s GM Debate, hosted by Seamus Sheridan (he of the cheesemonger’s fame and Green Party persuasion) at 1pm in the appropriately name Green Room in Galway City Museum.
And it’s not all city-based either, with several food tours taking place over the weekend – including a trip out to the wilds of Connemara to visit the lovely Graham and Saoirse Roberts at Connemara Smoke House and see where the likes of locally caught tuna is transformed into their hot-smoked delicacy.
No self-respecting party (or food festival for that matter) would be complete without a bit of showing off, and there’ll be lots of that in the form of cookery demos, including one of Cooking With Seaweed (Sat, 12pm) with Martin O’ Donnell from West Restaurant at The Twelve in Bearna. Martin picks his own seaweed on Bearna strand, and he cooks a mean mackerel too, so double kudos to him.
Of course, there’ll be a drink or two taken, and even a class in how to taste a glass of wine, should you feel you need a refresher in the matter (Aniar Restaurant, 2pm, Sunday with Febvre Wines) as well as loads of other opportunities to blag some free tasters of fine wine over the weekend. Just have a gander at the full weekend’s listings here to seek out your best time to strike.
But really, it’s not the dancing or the laughing or the detours or the rows or the drinks that draw us to a great party. It’s the chance to meet people: to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. It’s the fact that you don’t know what conversation you’ll stumble upon or who you’ll bump into or what memory you’ll take away with you.
And that’s what makes the draw to Galway so darn hard to ignore right now. Besides the many Meet the Producers sessions peppered throughout the weekend, including one with the dynamic Allen brothers behind the award-winning Castlemine Farm (see my post about their pork which picked up an Irish Food Writers’ Guild Award recently), I know there’s going to be a bunch of the best people gathering in on Galway over the next couple of days.
I’d love to just jump in a car and take the two-hour drive across from Dublin and go see who I might meet at what’s shaping up to be a brilliant Easter weekend.
Regrettably, I’m otherwise engaged. Well okay, when I say regrettably, I’ll be in Paris, so all things considered, non, je ne regrette rien.
But if I wasn’t otherwise engaged, I’d damn sure be answering the call of Galway. What’s your excuse?